An Australian MP has called for tougher speech laws so that it is illegal to offend Muslims because of their religion.
Anne Aly, Australia’s first female Muslim MP (pictured), said that race discrimination laws should be expanded to cover insults based on religion as well.
Restrictive speech laws Down Under have banned people from saying anything which could “offend or insult” people because of their race.
As Heat Street has previously reported, the Australian government is mounting a push to rewrite the legislation so that words must “harass or intimidate” before they become a matter for the courts.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the legislation in question – Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act – has “lost its credibility” and needs to change.
However, Aly proposes doing the opposite – keeping the lower standard for the law, and adding “religion” to the current list of “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.
Speaking to The Australian, she said: “I find it a little bit strange that someone can call you a ‘dirty Arab’ and that be covered under the bill, but if they called you a dirty Muslim you’re not covered.”
Existing legislation does not criminalise those who break the law – but it can result instead in hefty fines of more than $40,000 (US).
The government changes – to remove the “offend or insult” wording – is working its way through Australia’s parliament, where it faces tough opposition.